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The Honorable Barbara Lee

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Information about The Honorable Barbara Lee

Profile image of The Honorable Barbara Lee

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congresswoman
State Senator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Grenada
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/16/1946
Birth Location:
El Paso, Texas

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congresswoman
State Senator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Grenada
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/16/1946
Birth Location:
El Paso
See how The Honorable Barbara Lee is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

U.S. Congresswoman Honorable Barbara Lee was born on July 16, 1946 in El Paso, Texas. Her biological father, James Lewis, was a veteran of the Korean War; her mother, Mildred Massey, a clerk. In 1960, Lee’s family moved to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. As a teenager, she immersed herself in music and won two music achievement awards from the Rotary Club and the Bank of America. Lee graduated from San Fernando High School in 1964. She worked for one year in the California Department of Labor Statistics, and then went on to receive her B.A. degree in psychology from Mills College in 1973 and her M.A. degree in social work from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975.

Upon graduation, Lee worked for Congressman Ronald V. Dellums after serving as a legislative intern there during graduate school. While there, she managed Congressman Dellums’ offices in Washington, D.C. and Oakland, California for eleven years and eventually rose to the position of senior adviser. In 1990, Lee was elected to the California State Assembly; and, in 1996, she was elected to the California State Senate. As a Democrat, she worked successfully with California’s Republican administration in those years and sponsored sixty-seven bills that were signed into law by then-Republican Governor Pete Wilson. Lee’s political agenda focused on issues such as education, public safety, environmental protection, health, labor, and women’s rights. In 1998, she became the first woman to represent the State of California’s then-9th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2009 to 2011. She was later elected as the first woman to represent the California’s now-13th Congressional District in 2013. Lee also published a memoir, Renegade for Peace and Justice: A Memoir of Political and Personal Courage (2008).

Lee’s honors and distinctions include receiving the Dean’s Appreciation Award from the University of California at Berkeley School of Social Welfare, and the Willie L. Brown, Jr., Leadership Award, both in 2001. Lee was also nominated for the Alfred R. Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, The National Urban League honored her with the Congressional Leadership Award; and, in 2012, she received the Lifetime Legacy Achievement Award from the United Nations Association. Lee is the mother of two sons, Tony Lee and Craig Lee.

U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2013.

See how The Honorable Barbara Lee is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Barbara Lee's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about tracing her African roots
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her mother's experiences of color discrimination
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her mother's education and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her father's family background and how he met her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her stepfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers moving with her family to California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her likeness to her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Barbara Lee lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her house in El Paso, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her maternal grandfather's move to El Paso, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her neighborhood in El Paso, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the role of religion in her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her family's departure from El Paso, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her early political participation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talk about her early influences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her experiences at San Fernando High School in San Fernando, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes how travel influenced her interest in politics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her high school graduation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers the political events of the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls her time living in Europe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her return to San Fernando, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers moving to Northern California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers joining the Black Panther Party
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her maternal grandfather's emphasis on education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her decision to attend Mills College in Oakland, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her experiences at Mills College in Oakland, California, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her experiences at Mills College in Oakland, California, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls developing the African study abroad program at Mills College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls the influential figures she met through her activism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the Black Panther Party
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her psychological training
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls the founding of the CHANGE, Inc. mental health center in Berkeley, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the influence of Dr. Price Cobbs and William H. Grier
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes the importance of mental healthcare in the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers the Cal in the Capital program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers Huey P. Newton
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers working as Congressman Ronald Dellums' chief of staff